SAN ANTONIO – The 2012 Texas Master Gardener Conference – River Walk and Garden Talk — will take place May 3 – 5 at the Norris Conference Center, 4522 Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio, said event coordinators.
The conference is sponsored by Texas A&M University’s department of horticultural science and its Benz School of Floral Design, they said. It is hosted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Bexar County and the agency’s Bexar County Master Gardeners.
“We’re very excited to be hosting this year’s conference, which is open to only Texas Master Gardeners, but also has a plant sale the general public can enjoy,” said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in Bexar County. “There will be lots of speakers, classes, events and tours during the conference. Master Gardeners should enjoy the awards banquet in the Oak Ballroom and our keynote speaker, Mary Sue Koontz-Nelson, who will present ‘Living and Loving It!”
Rodriguez said he expects about 500 – 700 Texas Master Gardeners from county Master Gardener associations across the state to attend, adding that the general public is invited to participate in the conference’s May 3 – 4 plant sale.
The plant sale will be at the conference center entrance at Wonderland of the Americas shopping mall from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 3 and then again from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on May 4.
“Admission is free, and plant purchases must be made by cash or check,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll have a nice variety of plants at special event pricing, plus there will be about 20 vendors there from the green industry.”
He said the plant sale will highlight past and present Texas Superstar selections, with plants provided by Peterson Brothers, Color Spot and Monrovia nurseries. The sale also will introduce the new Orange Frost citrus plant – a Changsha and Satsuma cross.
“The Orange Frost citrus is currently exclusive to Greenleaf Nursery in El Campo and will not be available for general release until 2014, so this is a rare opportunity to obtain this unique citrus plant,” he said. “This winter-hardy citrus has its own root system, produces delicious, seedless fruit and can be grown in a container or planted into a landscape.”
Rodriguez said conference registration will begin at 10 a.m. on May 3, with presentations to follow from 1:15 – 5 p.m. An optional dinner will he held downtown during that evening. May 4 presentations will begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. May 5 is reserved for tour activities.
The conference will feature more than 20 speakers representing the green industry, AgriLife Extension, Master Gardener associations, Texas AgriLife Research, the Junior Master Gardener program and various businesses, agencies and utilities.
“There will be presentations by authors, lecturers, professors and other experts in horticulture, organic gardening, heirloom gardening, botany, landscaping, floriculture, plant breeding, plant pathology and diagnostics, resource conservation, urban forestry, farmers markets, fruit and vegetable production, and more,” Rodriguez said.
The regular conference registration cost of $210 includes eight hours of classes of the attendee’s choosing, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Friday and a conference T-shirt. It also includes a raffle ticket for Friday night’s door-prize drawing.
The May 3 dinner and May 5 tours are in addition to regular conference activities, so there is an additional charge for participants.
“The Thursday dinner will be on the historic River Walk in downtown San Antonio,” Rodriguez said. “The meal will be made using local produce – deliciously prepared and beautifully presented – and transportation is included from the Norris Conference Center to the restaurant. The cost is $35 per person and space is limited, so attendees should sign up for it as soon as possible.”
He said Saturday’s tours of cultural and agricultural sites in San Antonio will include a Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard tour and riverboat tour of Mission Reach, the newly landscaped portion of the San Antonio River. Tours are $50 and include lunch, transportation and shopping. Spouses may participate in tours at the same price and depending on space available.
Master Gardeners also can take advantage of additional workshops in citrus and flowers taught by renowned professionals for an additional fee, he said.
“But you must sign up for the conference to participate in any classes, workshops, or tours,” Rodriguez said.” Registration is limited to 700 participants, so reserve your spot at this amazing conference as soon as possible.”
Rodriguez said payment may be made by PayPal, credit card or, if necessary, by check.
“For expediency and reporting purposes, we prefer as many people as possible register online,” he said. “But if someone is unable to register online, a registration packet can be obtained by someone else through the conference website ( http://www.2012tmgaconference.org/Reg_Print.pdf.) The form can be filled in and mailed with a check, and registration will be completed once both of these are received.”
He said hard copy registrations and checks should be mailed to Bexar County Master Gardeners, Inc., 3355 Cherry Ridge Dr., Suite 208, San Antonio, Texas 78230.
There will be a $100 cancellation fee for any cancellation up to April 3. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after April 3. All cancellations must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, go to http://www.2012tmgaconference.org or email the Bexar County Master Gardeners at conf@bexarcountymastergardeners.
“This conference is a great opportunity for Master Gardeners to meet, exchange ideas and experiences, learn and have a good time,” Rodriguez said.